Toronto Community Housing, Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (Canada) and roughly 60 students from St. Jamestown's Winchester Public School kicked off the 2010 Live to Play Children's Soccer Tournament on Universal Children's Day, November 20th.
Live to Play will provide children in Toronto with an opportunity to play soccer leading up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while using the game to emphasize the importance of physical activity and the appreciation of social and cultural diversity.
During the tournament, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (Canada) will provide schools with a school-based program to teach children in Toronto about South Africa, Nelson Mandela and the challenges facing South African children and youth today.
Toronto Community Housing will engage hundreds of children and youth in priority neighbourhoods across the city, nurture their sense of empowerment and engagement and put what they learn from the program into action.
"The Live to Play Children's Soccer Tournament will give children and youth living in Toronto Community Housing an opportunity to learn the values of social inclusion, diversity and civic engagement championed by Nelson Mandela," said David Mitchell, Chair of Toronto Community Housing's Board of Directors. "Toronto Community Housing shares those values and believes they are the basis of safe and healthy communities."
"Sport brings people together working toward a common goal," said Alina Chatterjee, Manager of Corporate and Community Development with Toronto Community Housing. "That's the essence of community development and the beginning of building young leaders."
"It's great to be part of this," said grade 8 student, Klodian Lumaj, adding that he's looking forward to learning more about Nelson Mandela and the children and youth in South Africa.
Students were wearing buttons that read "I am silent" in support of the many voiceless children throughout the world. "A lot of youth don't have the right to speak out," said grade 8 student, Yonas Kebede. "That's not fair. That's why I'm wearing this button."
All proceeds from the year-long program will go to Nelson Mandela Children's Fund projects in South Africa helping children suffering from the effects of HIV/AIDS, and to support the construction of the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital in Johannesburg.